During the NFL season, Stadium sports betting analyst Nate Jacobson will break down every single point spread. Here are his thoughts on the Divisional Round.
Note: Nate will discuss all of his NFL bets on the Sharp Lessons podcast that drops every Tuesday and Thursday. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
Jaguars at Chiefs (-8.5): This game is a rematch of a Week 10 meeting in the same stadium. The Chiefs closed -9.5 in that game with a total of 51.5. Head coach Doug Pederson knew he would have to be aggressive in that game for the 3-6 Jaguars to pull off an upset against his former boss in Andy Reid, and he decided to set the tone by attempting an onside kick to open the game.
Jacksonville recovered that onside kick and won the turnover battle 3-0 but still lost the game 27-17 to fall to a 3-7 record. The Jaguars had their bye the next week and went on to win seven of their next eight contests, including last week’s 27-point comeback victory over the Chargers.
The Chiefs are the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs, earning the luxury of a bye week. Patrick Mahomes will be the MVP this season, and giving him and Reid extra time to prepare will be the difference in this matchup. While the Jaguars held their opponents to one touchdown in the final three weeks of the regular season, those games were against Zach Wilson, Davis Mills and Josh Dobbs.
It’s hard to see the Jaguars getting many stops in this game, so I bet the Chiefs to go over their team total of 30.5. The total in this game went up from 51.5 to 53, and instead of taking a bad number on the full-game total, I prefer isolating the Chiefs to do their part.
I think this line makes sense, and I’m not interested in betting either side. The clear way to play this game is to tease the Chiefs down from -8.5 to -2.5 on a six-point, two-team teaser that pays -120. The Jaguars have the upside to keep this game close, and I would imagine Pederson deploys an aggressive game plan knowing they’re in the big underdog role. But it’s very likely that the Chiefs win this game by at least a field goal, and I could see a scenario where all the effort and emotion from last week’s win catches up to Jacksonville.
Pick: Chiefs team total over 30.5 and use the Chiefs in a six-point teaser with the Eagles
Giants at Eagles (-7.5): This will be the third meeting between these two NFC East foes within the last six weeks. The Eagles won at the Giants in Week 14 by the score of 48-22 (Philadelphia closed as a seven-point road favorite). Then in Week 18, Jalen Hurts returned from a two-game absence to help the Eagles win the division against the Giants, who rested starters with the No. 6 seed secured.
I was a little surprised to see the Eagles as only a seven-point favorite against the Giants at home on Monday morning because last month the Eagles closed as a touchdown favorite on the road and won easily. While New York might have shocked the public last week by beating Minnesota, I wasn’t surprised that the Giants played well and defeated an overrated Vikings team.
The line moved to -7.5 and has settled in at that price. The biggest concern for the Eagles is the health of Hurts, who could have lingering issues from a shoulder injury. I’m hopeful that Philly’s bye last week will improve Hurts’ health. I think the situational advantage for Philadelphia having off last week is a big enough edge over a team with a short week to prepare.
The Eagles are the only side I can look in this game. I bet the -7 that was available on Monday and would suggest others to do the same if that point spread returns. I also like the Eagles as the second part of a teaser to pair with the Chiefs earlier in the day.
Pick: Use Eagles in a six-point teaser with Chiefs
Bengals at Bills (-5.5): When this matchup was finalized, I was hoping to bet the Bills -3 on the opening spread. I wasn’t impressed with how the Bengals won against Tyler Huntley’s Ravens, while left tackle Jonah Williams left the game with what looked like a serious injury.
The first point spread I found was Bills -6, and I quickly watched that line drop to as low as -3.5. Then the number ticked back up to -4 but I decided to wait until the morning to reassess my plan on betting this game. I ended up betting Bills -4 on Monday morning before it was revealed that Williams suffered a dislocated kneecap. The Bengals were already without two starters on the right side of the offensive line in La’el Collins and Alex Cappa, so another loss to that unit would spell real trouble for Joe Burrow and Cincinnati’s offense. Unsurprisingly, the line for this game has creeped up to Bills -5.5.
At this number, I would stay away from the game. Buffalo made it difficult for themselves against the Dolphins last week, only winning by three points after getting out to a 17-0 lead. But it’s possible Buffalo simply lost some focus near the end of the first half and they’ll give their best effort for this game on Sunday.
Keep in mind, the Bills closed -2.5 at the Bengals in the Week 17 game that was ruled a no contest. With both the flip of home field and the Bengals’ o-line issues, Bills -5.5 could be enticing to some. If the Bills got back to -4 before kickoff, I would say to bet that, but otherwise this is a game to watch and enjoy.
Cowboys at 49ers (-4): With the Cowboys looking great on Monday night, I was hoping to maybe get a discounted number on the 49ers and bet them at -3. I bet on the Cowboys to beat the Buccaneers because of a buy-low opportunity on Dallas against an underwhelming Tampa Bay, so I wasn’t surprised with how that game played out, and I was hoping for others to overreact. Instead, I saw the 49ers open at -4.5 before being bet down.
49ers rookie QB Brock Purdy is 6-0 as a starter and has been impressive, but this matchup against the Cowboys’ pass rush will be his toughest test. Purdy has started against the Buccaneers, Commanders, Raiders, Cardinals and Seahawks (twice). That’s a favorable stretch of opposing defenses with four of those games being at home and the two road games being close trips to Seattle and Las Vegas.
I’m intrigued to see if Purdy can handle the extra pressure — and if head coach Kyle Shanahan can outduel Cowboys DC Dan Quinn. Shanahan was the Falcons’ OC for two seasons when Quinn was the head coach there, and keep in mind that Shanahan got the better of the Cowboys in a Wild Card matchup last season.
The situational factors going against the Cowboys are why I could only bet on San Francisco. This will be Dallas’ fourth road game in a row after closing the regular season at the Titans and Commanders before winning in Tampa Bay on Monday. The 49ers also have over a 48-hour rest advantage because they played the earliest game of the playoffs on Saturday (and are also playing at home for the third-straight week). If the 49ers get to -3 between now and kickoff, I’ll be tempted to make a small bet on them but I have no desire to get involved at -3.5 or higher.